Making $$ as an Independent Band – The Real Numbers

September 14th, 2011

How much money do unsigned bands make off of album and single sales? Indie-folk band Uniform Motion disclosed all of its numbers in a blog post last week, following the official release of their new album.

With permission from the band, here are the exact numbers:

SPOTIFY

With Spotify, we’ll get 0.003 EUR/play.

If you listen to the album all the way through, we’ll get 0.029 EUR.

If you listen to the album 10 times on Spotify, we’ll get 0.29 EUR

If you listen to it a hundred times, we’ll get 2.94 EUR

If you listen to the album 1,000 times (once a day for 3 years!) we’ll get 29.47 EUR!

If you use the free version of Spotify, it won’t cost you anything. Spotify will make money from ads. If you use any of the paid versions, we have no idea how they carve up the money. They only disclose this information to the Major record labels…

DEEZER:

Deezer seems to pay a little more.

We’ve been getting 0.006 EUR/play from them. That’s 0.052 EUR/album play. If you listen to the album 10 times on Deezer, we’ll get 0.52 EUR. If you listen to it a hundred times, we’ll get 5.2 EUR. If you listen to the album 1,000 times (once a day for 3 years!) we’ll get a whopping 52 EUR!

If you use the free version of Deezer, it won’t cost you anything and Deezer will make money from the ads. If you use any of the paid versions, we have no idea how they carve up the money either.

eMUSIC:

eMusic is a subscription service. The cost of the album will depend on the plan you have. We get roughly $0.29/song or $2.60/album (9 songs).

AMAZON MP3:

You’ll pay 7.11 EUR to download the MP3’s. We will get 4.97 EUR of that. That’s a 70-30 split.

iTUNES:

The album will cost you 8.91 EUR to buy from Apple.

There’s a 70-30% split there too, so we will keep 6.28 EUR/album.

That being said, it costs us 35 EUR/year to keep an album on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon (105 EUR per year for all 3 of our albums!) so we don’t make any money until 24 people have bought a digital copy of the album on iTunes, or 150 single songs, or if we get tens of thousands of listens on Spotify! In most cases, it’s actually more economically viable not to sell the music at all.

But what about if you buy the Digital version directly from us?

DIGITAL:

We allow people to pay what they want for the digital version. If you choose to pay 5 EUR, Paypal takes 0.37 EUR, Bandcamp takes 0.75 EUR. Uniform Motion keeps 3.88 EUR. it doesn’t cost us anything to have a page on bandcamp.

If you decide to pay nothing, well, we get nothing, but at least you didn’t give money indirectly to major record labels, which seems to be the case with Spotify!!

CD

If you buy a CD, directly from us for 10 EUR, Paypal takes 0.515 EUR, Bandcamp takes 1.5 EUR. So there’s slightly less than 8 EUR left for us. But hold on a second, it costs a fair bit to make the CD.

The CD itself costs 1.2 EUR, the booklet costs about 50 cents, the CD packaging is 1.8 EUR and the sticker on the front costs 35 cents.

That’s a total of 3.65 EUR

So in reality, there’s 4.34 EUR left for us.

VINYL:

If you buy a 12” Vinyl from us at 15 EUR, Bandcamp takes 2.25 EUR, Paypal takes 0.646 EUR so there’s 12.10 left. The cost of the Vinyl itself is 3.06 EUR

The labels cost 1.3 EUR. For a total of 4.36 EUR

So there’s 7.75 EUR left for us.

However, we had to press 250 of these (because that’s the minimum order), so it’s very unlikely we’ll make any money on them.

We need to sell 72 copies before we break even on the vinyl edition. We’ve sold about 30 so far.

If we break even, we’ll lower the price a little bit. :)

These figures highlight how difficult it is to make money as an independent artist.  Granted, even if you’re signed you’re probably not getting much cash outside of your advance and then the label owns the masters and perhaps also the publishing, merch, tour and anything else they want to write in (i.e., the elusive 360 deal).

Support the bands you love! We love music and want it to be created.  Fans can have a great impact on bands’ careers, so its important to give where you can.

As a side note, I’m loving Uniform Motion’s music and it seems like they have a very unique live show too. Definitely worth checking out!  Description of the band/show:

Uniform Motion is an illustrated indie-folk band combining music with visual arts created by Andy Richards and Renaud Forestie in 2008, joined by Olivier Piotte (drums, percussions, keys) in 2011.
During our live performances, Renaud live-sketches using a video projector, while Andy builds up a soundscape with with his guitar, loopstation and voicebox resulting in a hypnotising audio-visual experience.